Our library viewing area (as it is described for booking purposes) is a large, fairly open space where students mostly sit on the floor to use the set of iPads or for viewing the TV. It’s popular with teachers for the iPads because we have an Apple TV making for easy sharing of student work. I wrote about one corner of this space in Impact of space but I knew I wanted to look more at this area. As you can see, the corner wasn’t the only messy part of this space. (click on the image to rotate the panorama).
On the face of it the area is serving its purpose but I feel it could be better utilised. One thing I’ve noticed is that, even though we are always busy at lunchtime, this area does not get much use at that time (although the new 3D printer has generated lots of interest). Being a “dumping ground” was not limited to the one (now cleared) corner and even something as simple as cleaning out the superfluous stuff should have a positive impact. The central area which is not visible in the panorama is basically an empty carpeted space. There is a contrasting carpet square that is used to define the seating area for viewing the TV.
I’d like to make the area more attractive and inviting for students so they are tempted to spend time there of their own volition. It would be lovely to redecorate the area with some of the fabulous multipurpose furniture pieces I’ve seen. New carpet would make a huge difference too, as would a new colour scheme, writeable walls and more options for display.
However, my school is embarking on a major consolidation and building process. According to the plan we will be moving out sometime next year so that the building can be gutted and refitted. At that time we will move into a completely new space (that’s a whole other story). Thinking about what Brown (2009) describes as the work of a design thinker – the harmonious balance of desirability, feasibility and viability – it’s pretty clear that such ideas, while desirable and feasible are not viable.
Fundamental to the use of design in learning spaces is the consideration of the style of teaching and learning that will take place and the flexibility to provide for different styles in the same environment. Buchanan (1992) discusses “the role of design in sustaining, developing, and integrating human beings into broader ecological and cultural environments, shaping these environments when desirable and possible or adapting to them when necessary” (p. 10). So “using constraints as inspiration” (Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby 2012, p. 110) I’ve turned my attention to the activities that could occur to make the space more appealing rather than focusing just on the physical.
I have been thinking for a while that I’d like to use this space for students (and possibly teachers too) to present “how to” sessions about their interests, passions and hobbies. This idea was formed last semester when we looked at Creative Cultures in module 5 of Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age. I’m still working on how to get that started but in the meantime this task has given me the impetus to try something else first.
My plan is to provide a variety of new activities for students (a different one each day or week) in this space at lunchtimes. First up will be a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle that I will place on a table in the middle. I’ve no idea how quickly it might be completed but there won’t be any problem leaving it as a work in progress over a few days. The table usually lives against a wall but can be easily moved by two people allowing us to clear the space for classes at other times. I will look for other similar ideas (and thanks Patricia Lee for your inspiration already) – perhaps some craft activities or obsolete equipment that the children might like to take apart and tinker with.
Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. HarperBusiness.
Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues. 8(2), 5–21.
Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration : transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson.
Comments on other blogs:
I have commented on: